The complete lack of black characters in the show Friends has been one of the issues that have captured the public’s attention recently. Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe Buffay on the sitcom, also said in May 2020 that the program’s 10 seasons significantly lacked diversity.
The actress has previously stated that she “would never have an all-white cast” if the program ever made a comeback on television.
But in a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Kudrow seemed to make sense of the original sitcom’s lack of diversity. The actress said that given their backgrounds, Friends creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman “didn’t have the right” to portray storylines about people of race.
I think it was like a show created by two people who went to Brandeis University and wrote about their lives after college – the actress said. And in the series, especially in a character-centric sitcom, you write about what you know. They don’t have the right to write stories about the life experiences of being a black person. At that time, the big problem I saw was: “Where is the apprenticeship?”
Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of Friends, recently discussed this issue and expressed her embarrassment at the lack of diversity in the program in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
She said it took me a long time to understand how I had internalized systemic racism. I worked hard to become an ally, an anti-racist. And this donation seemed to me a way of making my contribution from the point of view of a white woman. After what happened to George Floyd, I began to struggle with accepting systemic racism in ways I never knew. That was the moment I started looking into how I had participated. I knew I had to correct the shot. I sincerely want this connection with the black community I didn’t have. Because of Friends, I never reached her.
I have learned a lot over the past 20 years. Admitting and accepting that you are wrong is not easy. It is painful to look in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t find out 25 years ago. Now I feel I have finally been able to make a difference in this area. I have to say that after I accepted this and stopped sweating, I felt relieved. But until in my next production, I can do a job on inclusion well, it won’t be over. I want to make sure from now on, in every show I make, that I am aware of hiring people of color and actively seeking out young black writers. I want to know that from now on, I will act differently. And then I’ll feel free.